Hello friends -
Another year is coming to a close, and the dawning year is sure to bring many changes. Change, even when necessary or inevitable (or desired or undesired), can be difficult, with unknowns being a source of hesitation or hardship for some, and hope or healing for others.
I used to share this thought with my son Mattie:
We can't always choose what happens to us or around us, and we can't choose our feelings -- BUT -- we can choose our attitudes, and we can choose our words and our actions, in any and every moment.
So whether a given moment involves celebration or suffering, or tragedy or triumph, or perhaps just the mundane day-to-day stuff that moves us from one minute to the next -- we always have a choice in how we touch others and the future -- through our thoughts and attitudes, which are expressed through our words and actions.
Mattie processed and included this thought in his
"Heartsongs" messages of purpose and peace. He understood that it is this truth -- that even as natural and human disasters occur, and despite what others think or say or do, each individual person always has the choice to think and say and do and BE "good" -- which is how a
just peace can unfold.
Mattie understood, and inspired us to realize that even amid change, and concern, and hesitation, we can choose to believe that hope is real, and that peace is possible. And more importantly, we can choose to be a source of hope and peace -- for ourselves, and for others, and for our world.
This is the message that underlies the
mission of Mattie's Foundation.
As most of you in
"Mattie's Peace Network" know, Mattie's Foundation is a very small, volunteer-based non-profit. And the 2015 and 2016 years have been difficult for us, as I (Mattie's mom and Foundation Executive Director) have been dealing with challenges related to cancer and neuromuscular disease, and also significant complications related to my cancer treatments.
The tough news is that the health challenges are ongoing and progressive. But the nifty news is that I am resilient, and I have a great support team, and I am adapting and figuring out how to "live around the complications and challenges." This means I am choosing to set some big goals for 2017, and I will be focused on tending to things that really matter -- family and friends, local and global neighbors, and fulfilling the mission of Mattie's Foundation.
During 2017, Mattie's Foundation will be using a phrase from Mattie's
"Peace Pledge" (on our bookmarks) as the theme that guides our programs and activities:
"I am peace. Together, we are peace."
Throughout the year, we will be sharing both inspiration and information from Mattie's messages of hope and peace and purpose. We will offer a variety of activities and programs created to support children and adults, families and educators, students and leaders, and folks of diverse races and religions and realities in better understanding what peace IS, and what peace is NOT. Our vision is that our materials and messages will both encourage and equip people in moving peace from a possibility, to a reality -- at
and community levels.
- Early in 2017, I will be sharing information about a new key Foundation volunteer who will be serving as our "Chief Operations Officer." She has already secured a free monthly half-page of space in our local "Washington Parent" magazine -- so we can update local families and educators and other leaders on our latest activities. As we endeavor to "Make Peace the News" -- we hope to secure space (or time) in other publications and media outlets (please let us know if you can help with that). Just imagine a Peace Corner in every newspaper and magazine and website, or a Peace Pause or Peace Spotlight each week on every radio or tv news show!
- During January and February, we will continue working hard on our National "Peace Day" Campaign effort (something that requires presidential legislation), and we will be posting messages in celebration of Black History Month. We will get back on track with our regular e-Peace Updates (for members of Mattie's Peace Network and Mattie's Peace Clubs), and with my "Messages from Mama Peace" (for youth, families, educators and other leaders and advisors). We will also be coordinating our spring "personalized gift brick" drive for the newest bricks and message inscriptions that will be placed in Mattie's Peace Garden during the spring.
- During March, April (National Poetry Month), and May, we will be advertising, processing, and posting all the submissions (artwork, photos, and other materials) for the 2017 Mattie's Peace Tree activity. We hope to have hundreds (or thousands) of local and global neighbors participating in this free annual international activity with the motto -- "many people, many places -- one purpose: peace!" And, we hope to have some amazing prizes to offer to participants in our Peace Tree activity (prizes will be based on participation, and awarded through random drawings).
- During June, July, and August, we will highlight our ongoing #Change4Peace activities, which are featured both on our website and celebrated with crafts and games and more in the "Peace Station" tents during our summer peace event. For our 2017 event, we will again collaborate with the City of Rockville, Maryland on an annual "party with a purpose" -- which will include the Foundation's July 4 Peace Gathering and the City's Fourth of July Fireworks Celebration -- all in the Mattie J.T. Stepanek Park & Peace Garden. Also, while Mattie's Birthday Campaign is a year-round activity, we will highlight this essential funding effort during the months of Mattie's anniversary (June) and his birthday (July).
- During September and October, we will highlight the latest updates to our Teacher Tips & Lesson Plans pages, and to our Peace Tips & Poetry Links pages (both on Mattie's website). These pages celebrate the work of families and educators (and students and classes and schools and community and spiritual organizations) who are seeking or have earned free Peace Activity Certificates from our Foundation, and also participants (past and present) in our Peace Certification Program -- who are certified either individually or as a community, or who have participated in one of our Pathways to Peace Train-the-Trainer Workshops.
- During November and December, we will focus on "thanks" and "giving" -- with messages of the importance of gratitude, for you and from you, and with reflections on giving -- of ourselves, and for each other, and for our world. And, I hope to be sending out a most amazing "end of year review" e-Peace Update -- highlighting and celebrating all the amazing activities and programs that unfolded and made 2017 a "good" year -- for local and global neighbors -- even amid change.
These are just a few highlights of our vision for the coming year. Much will be the same -- rooted in our familiar programs and activities, but much will also be new as we create and offer additional or updated materials and resources and activities. Yes, change is difficult. But, change is how we grow
forthward. During 2017, we at Mattie's Foundation hope to support YOU -- in attitude and action -- so that you can embrace change, with peace, and for good.
Finally, one thing that will not change in 2017 is our commitment to offering most of our activities and programs at no cost (or minimal cost) to participants. This is possible because of YOUR generous support. Whether you give financially as a
Peace Champion or a
Birthday Champion or a
Club Member or
Sponsor, or whether you support us with in-kind donations of space or food or printing or other resources that make our activities and events possible -- YOU are an essential part of our mission, and we celebrate you, with gratitude!
Supporting Mattie's Foundation matters.
You can never give too soon or too late
or too little or too much.
Visit our website to learn more about our
Current News items, and all of our ongoing and upcoming
And we love to hear from you! Please share messages (and photos and artwork) and feedback -- and let us know if we can share your thoughts on our
What You Are Saying website pages.
Hope and peace to all,
Jeni (Mattie's mom / Mama Peace)